It’s hard to believe that it is November, it’s the holiday time, and the New Year will be here so soon! I feel like we were just in the spring season, beginning with Solid Rock, and learning our new roles. We have learned oh so much in 6 months and continue to be grateful for the roles that we have within this ministry. There will always be something new to learn and I don’t doubt that God is constantly renewing us through the process.
It’s not always easy to know what month one is in here as most of the days always seem similar: warm, hot in the afternoon, and sunny. However, the nights have been significantly cooler with nice breezes. There are also Christmas lights all over San Juan. Last night, we drove by a park that is beautifully decorated. There are front doors with snowmen signs and signs that say Merry Christmas. You can see Christmas trees through the windows of some homes. I don’t think that Dominican culture decorates quite as much as American culture does, but I do appreciate the reminder of what season we are in. We will move our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, a small island pine tree, inside the house soon and hang a few red balls on it.
It has been wonderful to have a full American staff together on the ground here in San Juan. We have been able to rotate through guesthouse/team responsibilities and focus on our individual areas as well. We are looking forward to a traditional American food holiday meal with other international service workers and their families this Friday. There is also a planned Solid Rock staff holiday meal on December 2nd. Jason raises a few turkeys each year specifically for these type of meals. I am so looking forward to eating turkey and nothing beats pumpkin pie!! Especially when canned pumpkin is a hard-to-find luxury here. I have roasted the Dominican auyama already and used it as pumpkin, but it is really more like our butternut squash.
December will be a lighter team month with only 1 barrio team scheduled. This will be the calm before the storm because Jan-April is an extremely busy time for the ministry with many surgical and barrio teams. Our family will be doing some traveling during December for a 3-day staff retreat in early December, a trip to the mountains of Jarabacoa for Christmas (my in-laws are flying in), and from Jarabacoa to the north coast for a few days with friends that live in Santo Domingo. We didn’t start out with a plan to do 3 different trips in December, but in the end, that’s how it all fit into the calendar. I am looking forward to some family time outside of San Juan and quiet time with God.
We have re-initiated English Bible study at our home every other Friday evening for both Dominicans and Americans who want to participate. We are studying the book of James with a Francis Chan study and it has been going very well. Please be in prayer for this study as its purpose is not only to study the Word of God, but to also deepen relationships and build new vocabulary for those that are learning the English language. As a staff, we also have been doing a study called Free of Me by Sharon Hodd Miller. It is excellent and I just finished reading her book not so long ago. She challenges me to think about how often I fall into self focus, taking my eyes off of God, and falling into the trap of serving myself.
I challenge you to read her book or take a look at her study. We follow the videos on Right Now Media. I also challenge you to reflect upon your life during these holiday months. Ask yourself, who am I serving? What is my purpose? Hopefully, you find that your eyes are fixed on God and that you are seeking Him daily. Be careful! Sometimes, we think that we are doing things that are acts of service to God, but when we evaluate it closer, we realize that it is really motivated by our own selfish desires. Serving God isn’t so much about what you are doing, but more about how much you are submitting and fixing your eyes upon Him.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I will leave you with a few pictures and prayer requests. I often find myself forgetting to take pictures, so please forgive me for this! These are from a science fair day and family retreat hosted by Lucille Rupp, the kids DR school. Miriam also spent another day with me in the barrio site and Ethan and I went on a hike with some friends to a local waterfall. Enjoy!
- For our family that doesn’t get to see us around the holiday time.
- For us as we make our own holiday traditions here.
- For a continued focus on how God wants us to serve and helping us to be less self-focused and more fixed on His purposes.
- For the Gospel of Christ to be shared, heard, and proclaimed through the ministry of Solid Rock.